Colorado had the third-highest voter turnout in the nation in November’s midterm election, according to a report released this week.
Voter turnout in the state reached 54.5 percent of the eligible voting-age population, trailing only Maine, with 58.5 percent turnout, and Wisconsin, with 56.9 percent turnout. The report was released Wednesday by the group Nonprofit Vote.
Tiffany Parker, La Plata County clerk and recorder, said voting reforms passed in 2013 along with tightly fought races helped drive voters to cast ballots last year.
The state Legislature authorized mail voting statewide and same-day registration. Voters were able to correct outdated or incorrect information on their voting profiles right up to Election Day.
The changes “got rid of the registration deadline,” Parker said.
Colorado turnout also benefitted from heated races for governor and congressional senator. Gov. John Hickenlooper was re-elected over Republican Bob Beauprez despite what some pundits panned as a campaign full of missteps, and Cory Gardner successfully challenged the incumbent Democratic senator, Mark Udall.
The competitive nature of the races attracted more advertising and more voter targeting, Parker said.
“A lot of money was brought into the state,” she said. “The get-out-the-vote campaigns were a little heavier.”
In La Plata County, 23,215 voters cast ballots. More Republicans than Democrats – 8,220 to 7,868 – voted. Ballots also came in from 6,723 unaffiliated voters, 200 Libertarian voters, 129 Greens and 54 American Constitution Party members. (Twenty voters were considered confidential.)
More women than men voted, 11,828 to 11,367. The average age of La Plata County voters was 53.
An overwhelming majority of county voters – 93 percent – used mail ballots. The remainder used various forms of early voting.
Nationwide, only 36.6 percent of eligible citizens voted, the lowest in a midterm since World War II, Nonprofit Vote said. Turnout varied widely across states – the lowest was in Nevada, Tennessee, New York, Texas and Indiana.
States such as Colorado can serve as a model for the rest of the nation, Brian Miller, executive director of Nonprofit VOTE, said in a news release.
“Clearly, there’s much work to do to foster a healthy democracy when well below half the electorate votes in a national election,” he said. “The good news is that higher turnout states show us how we can increase voter turnout across the nation.”